About 560 people -- hikers and their guides – have been evacuated from the Mount Rinjani volcano in Indonesia, after being trapped in Sunday's earthquake. The quake on July 29 triggered massive landslides and dislodged rocks in the region.
The 6.4 magnitude quake brought with it several aftershocks, after which tonnes of rocks and mud rained down the mountain blocking all the hiking routes. The hikers, said to be from several countries such as France, the United States, Thailand, Germany and the Netherlands among others, could be rescued only after their guides found an alternate route to come down the mountain.
They were stranded since Sunday and officials had deployed several helicopters for search and rescue operations. These helicopters also dropped food suppliers to the stranded people, reported Channel News Asia.
"543 hikers have been evacuated - they arrived last night," national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told the Agence France Presse.
"There are now six people left ... They are all healthy and safe. They were all tired, but in good condition and were checked by our medical teams on the ground upon arrival."
The earthquake on July 29 was said to be centred on the northern part of Lombok, but was also felt in the popular tourist island of Bali. The quake killed about 16 people in the nation and at least 200 residents sustained injuries from collapsing buildings.
Post the earthquake, the region was rattled by about 280 aftershocks and the strongest one was recorded at 5.7 magnitude.
One of the deceased is said to be a Malaysian tourist, who was hiking to Mount Rinjani. Speaking of the tremors, another hiker said that he thought he was going to die. "I thought I was going to die," Reuters quoted John Robyn Buenavista, a 23-year-old American, who was at the summit, as saying. "I was clinging to the ground. It felt like it lasted forever. I saw people fall off, but it's a blur."
He also said that when he first felt the tremors, he thought that the volcano had erupted. "I started running to the trail. At one point, I saw people with half of their bodies stuck in the rocks and I just couldn't move. I felt paralysed and stopped moving. The guides were screaming, 'Don't die, don't die.' One of the guides had to shake me and take me by the hand. He told me that I had to go, and that they would be okay."